It could be a truck driver with a bad back or a remote-area child struggling to speak or read. It could be a grandmother suffering from Parkinson’s disease or a sports competitor with a debilitating injury.
The possible beneficiaries of the ground-breaking University of Queensland Telerehabilitation Clinic are limited only by imagination – and certainly not by geography or mobility.
Professor Deborah Theodoros and Associate Professor Trevor Russell of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences say this week’s launch of the $500,000 clinic heralds the latest step in the digital health revolution.
“More than a third of Australians live outside metropolitan areas, and they generally suffer poorer health and lower life expectancy than their city counterparts,” Professor Theodoros said.
“Poor access to timely and adequate healthcare leads to lower quality of life.
“Telerehabilitation combats this by reducing time and travel requirements, and connecting patients via telecommunication technology.
“From their home, school or community centre, people can access a service which has been developed by some of the world’s leading experts.”
The clinic will work with people suffering physical disability, musculoskeletal pain, and speech and language disorders.
It will be Australia’s first telerehabilitation clinic, and among the first in the world.
“Research shows that assessments and therapy via telecommunication are equivalent to traditional clinical encounters,” Dr Russell said.
“All that patients require is a computer, iPad or laptop, as well as a reasonable internet connection such as ADSL or 3G mobile internet.
“There will be some capacity for loans for individuals and community groups that don’t have suitable equipment.”
The clinic has been made possible in part by a $1 million philanthropic grant by The Bowness Family Foundation.
Mr Bill Bowness, now chairman of the Wilbow Group investment company, is a UQ graduate who overcame financial hardship and a severe stutter to forge a successful career.
The clinic will enhance the education of health and rehabilitation science students by exposing them to the next generation of health care delivery.
Contact +617 3365 2232 or [email protected] for more information on the centre’s clinical services.